Prime Minister &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/politics/2003/01/09/41786.html ' target=_blank>Junichiro Koizumi has suffered another Chinese snub, with Vice-Premier Wu Yi cancelling their Tokyo meeting and returning to Beijing a day early.
Japanese officials denied yesterday's cancellation had anything to do with Mr Koizumi's refusal to end his annual visits to the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/politics/2001/10/10/17714.html ' target=_blank>Yasukuni Shrine war memorial, but China gave no public explanation. However, the cancellation followed comments by the Japanese leader to a Diet committee on Friday that he saw no reason to stop visiting Yasukuni, and a warning on Sunday by Chinese President Hu Jintao that Sino-Japanese relations could be damaged "in an instant" by such an action.
Ms Wu was due to see Mr Koizumi yesterday afternoon, his first formal meeting with a senior Chinese official since 2002, though in the past 12 months he has twice met Mr Hu on the sidelines of international conferences.
Chinese leaders had refused to meet the Japanese Prime Minister in his country or theirs until he halted his annual attendances at Yasukuni, which honours the memories of 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals, reports the Australian.
Japanese Foreign Ministry officials say Chinese diplomats made it clear that the change of plans had nothing to do with the controversial shrine, although some Japanese news media quote other officials here as contradicting that view.
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday complained during a meeting with Japanese lawmakers in Beijing about Mr. Koizumi's plans to visit Yasukuni. Mr. Hu said that a visit would damage bilateral ties "in an instant."